FARMERS have called on milk processor Arla to protect suppliers after huge revenue growth has been followed by a further drop in prices.

The call to action comes as Arla announced it will be dropping its UK milk price by 2.16ppl – since December, Arla farmers have seen a total drop of 5.19ppl.

NFU Cymru is urging Arla to speed up its commitments to looking at risk management options for its suppliers and asking Arla to be clear as to why its current plans are not preventing steep price drops.

NFU Cymru milk board chairman Gareth Richards said: “I’m disappointed and surprised to see this level of price drop, despite a stable demand for butter and the UK futures market equivalent showing a positive result on the forward curve.

“We will soon see Arla’s seasonality pricing mechanism lower the pence per litre received even more.

“Just last week at the NFU conference in Birmingham, Arla announced a growth in revenue of £1.94bn. Arla farmers don’t appear to be feeling the positive effects of this revenue or the strategy to manage risk in the market. We want to see more done at both ends of the chain to insulate farmers from such steep price drops.

“It is vital that Arla works with farmers to provide them with the ability to mitigate the effects of volatility on their businesses. We are holding Arla UK’s managing director Tomas Pietrangeli to his commitment made at NFU conference to look into risk management options for Arla suppliers. We are calling on Arla to speed up this work so farmers can see the results.”

The drop follows First Milk's announcement that its milk price for March will be reducing by 1.25p per litre because of a weakening market.

Jim Baird, vice-chairman and farmer director, said: “As we’ve said in recent months, the weaker dairy market has impacted our revenue and we can only pay a milk price that relates to our returns.

“We know that this further milk price drop will be disappointing to our members and continue to do all we can to mitigate the market conditions.”